Christmas baking after quitting sugar

Christmas baking after quitting sugar

Christmas baking season is upon us! I have to bring 2 to 3 dozen cookies to a meeting on Wednesday, and Sunday is our annual mother-daughter baking day, so it’s time to start hunting down recipes and buying ingredients. I’ve had such bad luck with grain-free recipes lately that I don’t quite feel confident enough to promise several varieties of “healthy” cookies this year, but I do believe that the more you experiment with these ingredients, the more familiar you become with what works and what doesn’t. I am also of the camp that there is such a thing as good/better/best, and while you may say that “best” would be abstaining from desserts altogether, baking is part of the holidays for me — and I’m not going to give it up entirely. Completing the I Quit Sugar program was more than eye-opening for me in terms of how much sugar I was consuming on a daily basis beforehand, creating the desire in me to find healthier alternatives I can use during the holidays rather than just throwing up my hands and giving up — it’s the holidays, what the heck — uh, no…I’m still trying to find the “better” route, and although I’ve made a lot of rotten recipes lately, the three I’ve selected below were fabulous! “Good” healthy recipes don’t get made more than once in this house…these were GREAT, and next year when I want my pumpkin pie fix, I will be making these healthier versions, not the dubious overly sweet kind. (Also included is a yummy chocolate-chip cookie recipe, because every once in a while I need this kind of comfort food…made a bit healthier!)

Carrie Vitt’s pumpkin pie filling

I did not make the grain-free crust because — honestly — it seemed like a lot of work, and my track record with grain free has not been very good. I was bringing the pie to a get-together, and frankly I was afraid it was going to be terrible…I was even nervous that the filling wasn’t going to set because it was so runny going into the oven (I’ve made a few pies in my day), but it worked out beautifully! Made with organic maple sugar, which is less refined than table sugar. Maybe not the “best” sweetener out there, but I know Carrie’s story/health history, and I do trust her judgment when it comes to ingredients.

Paleo Newbie Pumpkin Pie Bars

These were SO super delicious, I seriously could not limit myself to just one. Maybe I cut them on the small size, I’m not sure (or maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself because I had to have two every time I served myself up a plate), but at any rate they were fantastic and I would love to eat them again! They use dates and raw honey to sweeten the pumpkin…definitely “better” than white sugar, at least in my book.

Elana Amsterdam’s chocolate chip cookies

Okay, so the recipe I’m linking to isn’t the exact one she shares in her book, Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry. (Incentive, perhaps, for you to buy the book!) These cookies come together in minutes, they’re grain free, and they are sweetened with honey. Watch out…they’re so good, they won’t last more than a few days!

And here’s what we’re eating this week:

Monday: Cod with tangy tartar sauce; greens on the side

Tuesday: Chicken cacciatore; greens on the side

Wednesday: Brown rice pasta with Alfredo sauce and vegetables (fresh mushrooms/no chicken)

Thursday: Takeout or dinner out

Friday: Dinner out

Saturday: Roasted red bell pepper and goat cheese frittata (no onions or garlic); greens on the side

Breakfast: Coconut chia pudding

Dessert: Healthy “Tagalongs”

Do believe in good/better/best? I often find myself wishing I had the strength and discipline to choose the “best” route, but I’m most often walking the “better” path…which also has its variations and degrees, of course. I don’t think I’ll ever be a sugar-free, soy-free, grain-free, high-raw vegan, but I do think it’s all about eating what makes you feel good — healthy, vital, alive and energetic. What do you think?

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